Manisa is a large city in Turkey's Aegean Region and the seat of Manisa Province. Historically, the city was also called Magnesia, and more precisely as Magnesia ad Sipylum, by the name of the Mount Sipylus (Mount Spil) that towers over the city. The English language root words "magnet" and "magnesia", their derivations, as well as their equivalents in many other languages, derive from the city's name. In Ottoman times, many of the sons of sultans received their education in Manisa and the city is commonly known as "the city of shahzades" (Şehzadeler şehri) in Turkey, a distinctive title it shares only with Amasya and Trabzon. Today, Manisa is a booming center of industry and services, advantaged by its closeness to the international port city and the regional metropolitan center of İzmir and by its fertile hinterland rich in quantity and variety of agricultural production. Traditionally spreading out immediately from the slopes of the Mount Sipylus, Manisa's area of extension more than tripled in size in the last decade, with the construction of new block apartments, industrial zones and the Celal Bayar University campus.
First time in 2004 and again for 2006/07, Manisa scored as the top Turkish city in terms of cost effectiveness, transport, and overall FDI promotion strategy and development in the ranking drawn among cities across 13 European regions by Financial Times' FDi magazine.
Manisa is also widely visited, especially during the March and September festivals and for Mount Spil national park, and is a departure point for other visitor's attractions of international acclaim which are located nearby within its depending region, such as Sardes and Alaşehir (ancient Philadelphia). İzmir's proximity also adds a further dimension to all aspects of life's pace in Manisa in the form of a dense traffic of daily commuters between the two cities, separated as they are by an half-hour drive served by a fine six-lane highway nevertheless requiring attention at all times due to its curves and the rapid ascent (sea-level to more than 500 meters at Sabuncubeli Pass) across Mount Sipylus's mythic scenery.
Traces of prehistory in Manisa region, although few in number, nevertheless include two very interesting finds that shed much light on western Anatolia's past. The first are the fossilized footprints, numbering more than fifty and dated to around 20.000-25.000 BC, discovered in 1969 by MTA, Turkey's state body for mineral exploration, in Sindel village near the depending district of Salihli and referred to under that village's name. Some of these footprints are on display today in Manisa Museum. The second finds are tombs contemporaneous with Troy II (2500-3000 BC) and come from Yortan village near Kırkağaç district center, north of Manisa. Original burial practices observed in these sepulchres led scholars to the definition of a "Yortan culture" in Anatolia's prehistory, many of whose aspects remain yet to be explored.
Central and southern parts of western Anatolia entered history with the still obscure kingdom of Arzawa, neighbors and, after around 1320 BCE, vassals of the Hittite Empire. The first millennium BC saw the emergence, impregnated with myths, of "Meonians", who were to attain statehood a few centuries later under a more commonly known name as the Lydian civilization, centered in their capital Sardes situated more inland and of which the region around Manisa was initially the western boundary. The legends surrounding such historical figures like the local ruler Tantalus, his son Pelops, his daughter Niobe, the departure of a sizable part of the region's population from their shores to found, according to one account, the future Etruscan civilization in present-day Italy, all centered around Mount Sipylus, where the first urban settlement was probably located, date from this period of proto-Lydians. It has been suggested that the mountain could be the geographical setting for Baucis and Philemon tale as well, while most sources still usually associate it with Tyana in modern-day Kemerhisar near Niğde.
In Classical antiquity, the city was known as Magnesia ad Sipylum and played an important role in the history of the epoch by being the place where, in 190 BC, Antiochus the Great was defeated in the Battle of Magnesia by the Roman Empire. It became a city of importance under the Roman dominion and, though nearly destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Tiberius, was restored by that emperor and flourished through the Roman empire.
Under Turkish rule since its capture first by the Beylik of Saruhan in the beginning of the 14th century, and then by the Ottomans in the beginning of the 15th, it remained prosperous, and developed steadily, especially as of the mid-16th century. As the central town of the Ottoman Empire's Saruhan province, the city's development was enhanced particularly by its choice as the training ground for shahzades (crown princes), and it stood out as one of the wealthiest parts of the Empire with many examples of Ottoman architecture built. Around 1700, Manisa counted about 2,000 taxpayers and 300 pious foundations (vakıf) shops, was renowned for its cotton markets and a type of leather named after the city, large parts of the population had begun settling and becoming sedentary and the city was a point of terminus for caravans from the east, with İzmir's growth still in its early stages. But already during the preceding century, influent western merchants such as Orlando, often in pact with local warlords such as Cennetoğlu, a brigand (sometimes cited as one of the first in line in western Anatolia's long tradition of efes to come) who in the 1620s had assembled a vast company of disbanded Ottoman soldiers and renegades and established control over much of the fertile land around Manisa, had triggered a movement of more commercially sensitive Greek and Jewish populations towards the port city
The 16th century Sultan Mosque was built for Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, Süleyman the Magnificent's mother. In her honor, the Mesir Macunu Festival (featuring spiced paste in the form of candy, and supposed to restore health, youth and potency, also known in recent years as the "Turkish Viagra") is held every year in March, in the grounds of this mosque.
The mosque is part of a large külliye -a religious compound- among whose buildings the hospital "darüşşifa" is particularly notable. Focused on mental diseases, the medical center was in activity until the beginning of the 20th century when new buildings were built within the same compound. That Turkey's only two institutions until recently specialized on mental health were located in İstanbul district of Bakırköy and in Manisa gave way in Turkey's public lore to gentle innuendos on the challenging spirit of the natives - Manisalı. One such warming eccentric of the 20th century was Ahmet Bedevi, the Tarzan of Manisa, a figure who became a symbol for the city by greatly contributing to raising consciousness for protection of the environment across the country, and by preserving and enriching Mount Sipylus's forests almost single-handed.
The Muradiye Mosque of the 16th century was built by the great architect Sinan (and completed by Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa), and the Murad Bey Medresse now houses the Archaeological Museum of Manisa.
Manisa celebrates the Vintage Festival every September, when the fruits of the vineyards are celebrated. The vineyards surround the city and provide dry fruit for export from İzmir, and grapes for wine making.
Modern Manisa is very much associated with the consumer electronics and white goods giant Vestel, although its economic base is far from being confined to a sole company. Manisa registered roughly 200m US Dollars in FDI in 2004 and well-known businesses such as Italian white goods company Indesit, German electrical goods company Bosch, UK packaging company Rexam and Imperial Tobacco of the UK have all invested in Manisa.
The city also has a football team, Vestel Manisaspor, which plays in the Turkish Premier Super League under the home colors of red and white and away colors of black and white.